Massena Ice Harvest Before there were refrigerators, ice boxes were used to keep food fresh. Ice boxes were made of wood and were usually lined with zinc. A large chunk of ice was put in the top part of the box. For home use, ice had to be perfectly clear, and from nine inches to one foot thick. Some people wrapped their ice in newspaper to make it last longer. As the ice melted, the water would go into a pipe and then flow into a pan at the bottom of the ice box. If the ice box was in the shed, the water sometimes went into the ground. For ice to be exported it had to be at least twenty inches thick. Despite the careful provision made for preserving it, from one-quarter to one-half its weight was lost in transport.
The Massena Ice Company was established in 1898 by Elon A. Horton. Ice was harvested over a period of 30-60 days during the middle of winter and insulated with sawdust and/or hay until it was needed to fill a customer's order. The Massena Ice Company's warehouse was located at 25-27 North Main St.
Horton Ice House on George Street, Massena was the site of Massena's ice harvest every winter. Ice blocks were typically cut 44" on a side. The ice blocks cut from the Grasse River were then placed on a hand operated moving belt which carried them to the ice house on the river bank. The men harvesting the ice were paid 20 cents an hour for a 10 hour day.